Life is not fair and sometimes it is up to us parents to raise a child who is capable of appreciating the small and big things that life has to offer. Most parents go out of their way to teach their children to be thankful for the little and big things in their lives. True gratitude can be instilled through little principles.
Gratitude is appreciating all that has been blessed and recognizing that these little gifts are a blessing regardless. According to research, when gratitude is instilled early in our children’s lives, it leads to happier lives. This happiness shows up at school, at home, and in the relationships they build with their loved ones, as well as with their friends.
When a child is taught to be grateful from an early age, this positive characteristic is portrayed even in their adolescence and adulthood. Many people who weren’t raised to be grateful from a tender age tend to struggle with the concept, especially when they reach adulthood. So how can children be taught to appreciate all the things in their lives, big or small?
Teach by action
One of the easiest ways to teach your child to be grateful is to exercise the same concept yourself. Children, from an early age, tend to shape their behaviors based on how they see adults behaving. “Adult” here means parents, relatives, teachers, and any other adults with whom your child has constant interactions.
Have you ever heard the term “practice what you preach”? This is one of those occasions when it is convenient to show your little ones that you not only expect them to perform this act, but that you are willing to do the same.
Raising children requires patience, kindness, compassion, responsibility, and the list goes on. When we practice this, our children absorb it. Leading by example is the best and hardest lesson in raising good people. Surrendering to a higher purpose, like teaching gratitude, is one of the best things we can do for our little ones when they are at a tender and impressionable age.
An easy way to do this is by introducing a family routine in which everyone sits down daily and says what they are thankful for, no matter how small. This will eventually set the wheels in motion and hopefully show your kids that there is so much in this world to always be grateful for.
There is no better way to teach your children about love than by caring for those around you. Being generous with what little you have allows your child to begin to be considerate of the feelings of others, and not just his own. Encourage your child to share with the less fortunate or their friends. Instead of always considering what they would want for Christmas, why not encourage them to also think about other gifts they would like to give to their loved ones?
We all want to give our children everything they want, but sometimes buying everything from them can do more harm than good. You must teach them to value what they receive without waiting any longer. If your child ends up having as many toys as he wants, he will not appreciate his possessions. They will always want something brighter and newer because they have been raised with the idea that all they need to do is point and it is theirs.
Depending on his age, your little one can start giving back to the community. Make community outreach a part of your family activity. Start volunteering at a nursing home, homeless shelters, etc. When your children start to interact with the less fortunate, those with health problems, they will begin to appreciate little things like their health, their family, their home, that they would have otherwise taken for granted.
Another beautiful tradition to present would be to encourage your children to donate their old toys to charity. Perhaps it instills a “one in, one out” policy where if they are going to get a new toy, they will have to part with the old one. Children tend to bond closely with their toys, so this lesson can be very educational for them.
Rather than simply donating these old toys to charities by mail, why not take your child to a charity home where they can see first-hand the joys that their old toys bring to a less fortunate child? This lesson will teach not only gratitude but also compassion.
Let them work for it
You need your relatives to understand that things don’t just magically appear when they want them. A great way to instill this is by allowing them to earn their rewards. Start spreading simple tasks across your countertop.
Teach them to save for whatever they want and only then can they buy it; This will educate them about money and its value. It will also allow them to take care of their possessions and appreciate what they have. This lesson will also allow them to get a realistic perspective on what their parents do to them.
Encourage thank you notes
Sending handwritten thank you notes is a dying profession and we believe that children should be encouraged to participate. When their child receives a gift, parents should help them send thank you notes to each person who bought a gift for them.
This doesn’t just have to be practiced when it comes to gifts. Encourage them to thank their teachers, pediatricians, family members, etc. – There are many opportunities for your child to recognize a kind gesture and appreciate it. If they start out young, this habit will become part of them as they move into adulthood.
The glass is always half full
It is part of human nature to sometimes view the world from a negative perspective. Many of us complain and despair over small issues (this is very normal), but it can be helpful if, as a parent, perhaps you can always try to find a silver lining. Teach your children to find something positive in every circumstance.